The Oscar winning documentary, ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,’ directed by Pakistani Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, was screened today for the second time in Pakistan by the High Commission of Canada, the British High Commission and UN Women.
Heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Obaid-Chinoy were offered by the three hosts: High Commissioner of Canada Heather Cruden, British High Commissioner-Designate Thomas Drew and UN Women Country Representative Jamshed Kazi.
This event brought together a large number of women’s rights activists, government officials, diplomats and media, who called for strengthening of existing laws and helping to change the national climate with regard to widespread honour killings in Pakistan.
The event paid tribute to the Oscar-winning short documentary and its director, winner of Pakistan’s two Academy Awards. The film has galvanized support to change the laws to better protect women. As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said, “there is no honour in honour killing.”
Speaking at the occasion, the British High Commissioner-Designate to Pakistan, Thomas Drew CMG said: “Congratulations to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for winning her second Oscar for “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”. Together with other committed women and men across Pakistan, she is helping to change the lives of women and girls. I commend the pledge by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to support these efforts and to bring an end to so called “honour” killings.
“The UK is committed to women’s empowerment and gender equality, at home, in Pakistan, and across the world. We will continue to support our partners in Government and civil society in their efforts to guarantee that all citizens of Pakistan are able to participate fully in the future of this country.”
The High Commissioner of Canada in Pakistan, Heather Cruden, said: “I am proud to say that for the past 25 years, Canada has remained committed to gender equality and women’s rights efforts in Pakistan. We see this work not only as a human rights issue, but also as a crucial element of sustainable economic development.
“Canada has faced its own challenges in building a better country for women. 100 years ago today, I would not have been included in the legal definition of a person – women were not acknowledged as “persons” under Canadian law until 1929. We have come a long way, and I look forward to continuing to work with the women and men of Pakistan as we strive to make the world a more equal place for every human being.”
In his congratulatory speech, UN Women’s Country Representative in Pakistan, Jamshed M. Kazi said:World leaders who met in New York last year to endorse the Sustainable Development Goals have set an expiry date for gender inequality – September 2030. For this goal to be achieved, Pakistan, like many other countries will need to step up the pace of change, which we are just beginning to witness.
“A girl born in Pakistan today will be an 81 year old grandmother before she has the same chance as a boy to become a CEO of a company. Similarly, at current rates of progress it will take 118 years to close the gender pay gap for equal work. This has to be a sprint, not a marathon.
“Sharmeen, through the international limelight and advocacy of her Oscar winning film “A Girl in the River” has demonstrated that changes in the law and practice of honor killing in Pakistan can be lifted from dormancy and accelerated on a fast-track.
Just like novel technologies have enabled countries to leapfrog on economic development, we should be leveraging the full power of film and media to generate faster transformational change for gender equality and women’s empowerment in Pakistan.
“UN Women’s vision of a Planet 50:50 is not just another planet in a galaxy far, far away, but right here in Pakistan within half a generation, if not sooner.”=DNA